A handy guide to the 10 Best Movies of 2018 (as of right now)
As we enter the lull between the sugar highs of summer’s thrill rides and the inevitable arrival of Hollywood’s classier Oscar-bait-type flicks, I thought it would be a nice moment to recap.
The Toronto Film Festival kicks off today. This internationally beloved fest is usually considered the first indicator of what will be the movies to watch — competing during Oscar season, and popping up on critics’ end-of-the-year best-ofs.
But 2018 has already delivered a solid crop of movies. Enough to fill a ten-best list certainly. In fact, when I decided to compile a list of the best films of 2018’s first eight months, I wound up with nearly twenty options. And that’s not counting the films I still haven’t had a chance to catch up on. (I have a close friend who insists there won’t be a better film this year than Paul Schrader’s First Reformed. I swear, I’ll watch it soon.)
The Marvel Cinematic Universe and countless franchise entries might have dominated the box office, but I mostly decided to go with less grandiose offerings. (Although eagle-eyed readers can guess, based on the photo above, that I did include one notable sequel in my list.)
The 10 best movies of 2018 so far (in alphabetical order)
*Blindspotting – While Sorry to Bother You might have gotten more attention, this less overtly stylized look at life in Oakland, CA, tackles similar issues of exploitation, gentrification, racism, and the brutalization of black bodies, with a defter hand and more thoughtful script. Plus, it’s funnier. Daveed Diggs (from the original cast of Hamilton) and Rafael Casal confirm themselves as true talents, both as the leads and writers of this wonderful flick.
*Blockers – Much like the underrated Aubrey Plaza sex comedy The To-Do List, Blockers works from the simple premise that girls can be horndogs too — and that’s OK. The flick doesn’t exactly reinvent the wheel when it comes to sex comedy, but the writing is clever and the cast, especially the lesser-known ladies playing the high schoolers looking to lose it on prom night, are charming and comically adept.
*Eighth Grade – Bo Burnham makes a creative quantum leap forward in his feature film directing debut. His portrait of an offbeat young girl trying to make her way through middle school is painful, sad, hilarious, and acutely observed. While the film doesn’t lack for cringe-y scenes of young awkwardness, Burnham refuses to punish his heroine for pushing herself out of her comfort zone. It’s like if Welcome to the Dollhouse had been made by an optimist.
*Hereditary – You can protest all you want that it’s not scary. You’re wrong.
*Mission: Impossible – Fallout – I’m not above cynicism. I mention this, because I had assumed that Christopher McQuarrie had turned into the modern-day version of those workman directors who made films for Frank Sinatra in the ’60s. Ol’ Blue Eyes didn’t like to do more than one take, so his pet directors wouldn’t push him — even if the movie suffered. My vision of McQuarrie was that he had become a guy who served Tom Cruise’s ego and daredevil desires at the expense of the big picture. Fallout proves me doubly wrong, as it’s a carefully calibrated concoction of action cinema joy that consistently deflates the image of its hyper-capable lead. There may still be better action flicks this year, but few will be as madcap or passionate in their thrill-making.
*The Night Is Short, Walk On Girl – From Masaaki Yuasa, the director of the recent Netflix anime series, Devilman Crybaby, comes this delightfully absurd romantic comedy about a young woman who barhops through the night, pursued by an older boy with an unrequited crush. It’s both as simple as — and twenty times more surreal than — that. Encounters with perverts, drunks, magical imps, and a roving band of street performers offer just a taste of the wild times these two (sort of) share.
*Support the Girls – Andrew Bujalski was one of the first filmmakers to be labeled “mumblecore,” although he has arguably remained less well-known than contemporaries like Greta Gerwig, the Duplass brothers, and Joe Swanberg. It’s a shame, since Bujalski consistently churns out flicks that are smart and funny, overflowing with humanity and grace. His newest stars Regina Hall as the beleaguered manager of a failing Hooters knock-off, and suggests that Bujalski has matured from a promising young talent into a masterful chronicler of modern life.
*Won’t You Be My Neighbor? – If you find that your cheeks are exceptionally dry lately, this emotional documentary portrait of Mister Rogers can help solve that for you. My full review can be found here.
*You Were Never Really Here – Director Lynne Ramsay turns Jonathan Ames’s neo-pulp novella about a hammer-wielding hitman into an arthouse meditation on alienation and violence. My full review can be found here.
Justin Remer makes movies, directs music videos, and plays in the bands Duck the Piano Wire and Elastic No-No Band when he is not writing movie reviews. His folk-rock documentary MAKING LOVERS & DOLLARS is currently streaming on Amazon.